By CL Bledsoe
Cats sweat through their paws. We learned this
when we looked up whether they pant, like dogs.
(They do.) They can leave paw prints from it across
the carpet if they’re overheated. My daughter coats
her hands in tap water and leaves a trail of perfect
hand prints along the couch until she sits
on my shoulder, pulls my arm out, and orders me
to hold her up. We’re watching something pink
on TV. When I was in school, Mr. Duval — an old
black man with a wooden leg — would make students
hold dictionaries if they spoke out of turn. That’s
what I’m doing now, holding the blond body, the tiny
waist on my outstretched arm. It was easy at first.
The kids all giggled and dared him to add more books
until the seconds became minutes, our faces pink
and then red, sweat darkening our shaking sleeves.